Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at bosey.co.in
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The World Twenty20 is now down to the final game - either Pakistan or Sri Lanka will be crowned champions later today.
Pakistan captain Younis Khan apparently has not realised that his team is in the final. He started off the press conference after their semi by saying, "We apologise to our fans for the disappointing performance. We promise we will bounce back and do better next time." When confused reporters pointed out to him that his team was still in the tournament, he looked surprised and then grinned "Oh? We're in the finals? That's great then. Sorry - force of habit, all that apologising for a crummy show."
When faced with the question of how he could possibly not know that his own team had reached the finals of the tournament, he said, "You see, I've been really busy playing for Pakistan, so I have no time to watch cricket. I don't even have time to catch the newspapers or browse the internet. So how do you expect me to know?"
Former Pakistan captains, however, were not amused. "It's not correct for Younis to say such things even before the final. At least he could have waited until after he had lost the final," said Imran Khan.
"Lost the final? What did Imran mean by that? It's not correct of Imran to suggest that we're going to lose the final. Who does he think we are? South Africa?" said Javed Miandad.
"South Africa? Why drag them into this? Everyone knows that all the matches are fixed. Cricket is boring. The world sucks," jabbered a predictably dramatic Sarfraz Nawaz, dwelling on his favourite topics.
When last heard, Wasim Akram was taking potshots at Saeed Anwar, who was upset with Inthikab Alam, who was refusing to comment on comments made about him by Shoaib Mohammed, who was annoyed because nobody remembers him.
The Sri Lankan team has been hit by a fresh controversy in the hours before the final. Allrounder Angelo Mathews is apparently upset with the "3M" moniker that has been given to the deadly bowling trio of Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis. "It's not fair. What about me? My name also starts with M. They are creating a senior-junior divide," said a visibly upset Mathews at a press conference.
"All this fuss over initials is completely unnecessary. Everything starts with an E, but we can't be renaming the ICC as the EEE, can we?" ICC chairman David Morgan pointed out sensibly.
Teams that have fallen by the wayside have been forced to introspect on the reasons for their failures. Pre-tournament favourites India had a nightmare tournament, losing all three matches in the Super Eights. Team coach Gary Kirsten blamed the IPL for the team's poor show "Thanks to playing the IPL [which was scheduled too close to the World Twenty20], we were exhausted compared to payers from Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand [which also had several players in the IPL] - the chief reason for our downfall," he said, pulling off the amazing feat of using parentheses and hyphens in spoken conversation. When someone pointed out that finalist Sri Lanka also had many key players in the IPL, he retorted "Yes. Thanks to the IPL, their players were able to hone their Twenty20 skills better than countries such as India, South Africa and New Zealand, who also had many players in the IPL."
West Indies captain Chris Gayle refused to single out any player for his team's loss in the semi-finals, for the simple reason that he couldn't. "Everybody contributed - youngsters and senior pros. Totalteameffortmon," he grinned.
South Africa, who were accused of choking once again in a big tournament, had no choice but to accept reality. "We've got to admit that we choked," said coach Mickey Arthur. "In fact, we choke so often, we're considerating hiring a Heimlich manoeuvre specialist to travel with the team," he signed off.